Today is National Coming Out Day! Congratulations to those of you who like myself, have been out for many years. You have paved the way for those who will come out today!
To those of you who are just out or coming out now, congratulations to you as well! This is a very serious and personal decision. Only you can decide if this is something that you want to do. Some of you will come out to strangers but not to family. Some will come out at work but not to others. Some of you will come out to family only. Many people come out in stages and others jump out of that closet with a vengeance. My friend, Lisa, told me many years, “Dawn (my given name), you didn’t just come out of the closet, you jumped out of the whole fucking house!”
My own story was that I was very closeted in early years. I moved away from home when I was 19 and came to Florida on my own. I was not really out yet but working towards it. My family put their home up for sale and sold a lot of stuff and actually followed me to Florida. I was not very happy about this at all!!
As it turned-out, when my parents had moved, they had neglected to clean out the closet that had been in my room very well. I had forgotten about a journal that I had kept…and kept hidden in my closet. (appropriate place eh?) The people who moved into the house had school aged kids and they found it. They took it to school – the same school in the small town that I had attended. Pretty soon, I received a letter in the mail from the person who used to call herself my best friend.
The letter explained that the whole town now knew and it would be wise if I probably never came back there. She made it clear that she didn’t really want to talk to me anymore. Of course, I was mortified and it became a race – either ME telling my parents or someone from the hometown telling them. I sat my mother down and I told her. Now, you must understand that my mother and I had a very bad relationship as it was. She had been my abuser and tormentor in so many ways growing up. Now I had to face her in terror and tell her what I was. (I still felt very abnormal and often referred to myself as a mistake and a monster)
Things did not go well and to make a very long story short, my parents and I didn’t speak to each other for about two years. I moved AGAIN, to another city in Florida so that I could have space, privacy and be myself. Oh what a process it was! My life has been full of confusion and a trail of bad decisions, all of which I had a hard time owning up to. It was easy to blame everything on how unfair my own life had been.
In the end, things worked out for me. It took me many, many years to understand how to come to terms with the fact that I always had the ability to be me. I never owed anyone any explanations or apologies. More importantly, there were never any reasons for me to have anger, regrets or pain over this.
To those of you who are concerned with what others think of you now, I want to tell you that you are special. You are unique and wondrous just as you are. There is someone out there for you, even if you think there is not. You are not alone and you never will be if you don’t want to be.
Will this road be easy? No. Certainly not. Being GLBTQ is very difficult. You are not going to have things easy when it comes to fitting in or being respected. You will work harder to be equal and when you love someone, you will have to work harder to stay with that person. Being respected as a couple in the eyes of society is not simple but it IS getting better. I used to harbor much resentment over these things, as well as other things from my childhood and what my parents put me through.
Here is what I have come to learn:
The moment that you accept that all suffering, pain, tears, heartbreak, conflict, loss and grief have been to make you strong enough for the path that God (insert Universe if you are not Christian, for to me it is all the same) has in store for you, everything becomes clearer. Instead of being angry, feeling cheated and unfortunate, you begin to view things from the opposite direction. It suddenly becomes easy to let these things go and look to the future, eagerly awaiting the good things we’ve been training for. Suddenly you realize that THIS IS your purpose! THEN God, can move in you. Peace is the domain of God. When we truly feel peace inside of ourselves then we know that we are right in the center of what he wants for us. This begins with acceptance of your place and your life lessons. You are always okay just as you are, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not worthy or that something is wrong with you. You were born with purpose from the moment you took your first breath, you had a destiny. You should be proud of all that you are. God and the universe are not ashamed of you in any way, so never be ashamed of yourself.
I Peter 5:7 – “God’s presence in our life is our sustaining peace.”
If you are coming out today, know that you are not alone in this world. You now have a support system, thanks to the internet, that I did not have 26 years ago. There are suicide hotlines for you, via the Trevor Project – 1-800-273- TALK (1-800- 273-8255). There are people who are part of that project who are signed-up to help listen and guide you. My facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/jessemacgregorjones and you will notice that my photo has the “Talk To Me” logo from the Trevor Project. I’m here as a mentor and guide for anyone who feels that they have no where to turn. Just as it says, you can talk to me.
Coming out is normally not easy. It can be traumatic but it can also be freeing. In the end, my story has been happy. You need to know that it is worth it. I did eventually reconcile with my family before my parents passed away. I am now free to be me and I don’t hide in a closet, in fear. I have someone in my life that I adore. I’m free to follow my dreams and my heart. So can you. There will be pain and grief along the way and this is the case with any life. Remember that this is simply to prepare you for the joy and the path you are meant to follow. Consider it training and keep it all in perspective. Know that you aren’t alone. Pick that phone up if you need it.
PS: That friend who wrote me the letter, contacted me YEARS later on Facebook and apologized. She admitted to being a stupid teenager and that life had taught her lessons since then as well. We are friends again, all these years later. Things CAN end well! Let them!